London Calling Urgent Alert - December 6 2004Published by MAC on 2004-12-06
London Calling! December 6 2004
London Calling Urgent Alert: Outrage in Orissa, as unarmed protestors attacked: British, Canadian, companies implicated
Four years ago three unarmed Adivasi (Indigenous) protestors against a mining project called Utkal, based at Kashipur in the Indian state of Orissa, were shot dead by police. A government commission declared the attack to be unprovoked and named those allegedly responsible, but no redress has been made. News of the killings reverberated around the world, leading Norway's biggest company, Norsk Hydro, to quit the venture. Meanwhile, Hydro's former partner, the Canadian company, Alcan, increased its stake in Utkal as did its Indian partner, Hindalco. Earlier this year, the joint venturers pledged that the project would proceed. Shortly afterwards, the world's biggest "natural resources" company, BHPBilliton announced that it too had a major interest in exploiting bauxite and iron ore in the state, having formed a joint venture with South Korea's steel company, Posco.
Last December, a new corporate enterprise was launched in London. Its sights were even more firmly fixed on Orissa. For, unlike its competitors and putative collaborators, Vedanta has a huge operating aluminium smelter, just across the border in Chhattisgarh state. Vedanta had not only staked out claims in the Orissa district of Kalahandi (not far from Kashipur), but actually started construction of its alumina refinery and made inroads into the bauxite deposits on the sacred Nyamgiri hills, a few kilometres away. Over the past two weeks Vedanta has enlisted the uncritical support of three of the world's leading investment banks - ABNAmro, Barclays Capital and Deutsche Bank - in raising funds to rush this project into production next year.
The banks are promoting Vedanta at precisely the same time as opposition parties in the Orissa state assembly began claiming that the company has trespassed on protected forests, and may be corruptly involved in an illegal deal with the Orissa Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik. Last month, the Orissa High Court delivered a judgement that Patnaik had given the go-ahead to another illegal mining and minerals deal, with the chromite company IDCOl; IDCOl must now issue fresh tenders.
That's the background. Now for the foreground. In the past seven days Patnaik decided to open up an approach road to the Utkal lease, and lay the foundation stone for a police station in Kashipur. This was clearly intended to intimidate local people (and there are many thousands of them) opposed to the mining, who will gather on December 16th to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Utkal killings. Several hundred of those who rallied to protest the laying of the stone were brutally attacked by police; some are now in prison. According to reports, the area around the prospective plant has been shut off to independent observers. On December 7th there will be another rally when - judging by recent events - even more brutality may be meted out to protestors.
For nearly a decade the Utkal project has been the subject of numerous news reports and several studies, in which many "outsiders" have voiced their views on whether the local communities accept or reject the mine and refinery. In a pervading atmosphere of intimidation, the understandings and views of villagers closest to the project have become difficult to ascertain. Nonetheless a very substantial number do fear for their future livelihoods. That almost all the villagers in the Vedanta project area also oppose the British company's operations is in no doubt. Naveen Patnaik's BJD-BJP government - backed by the World Bank and Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) - has, at the very least, a prima face case to answer for corruption, favouritism, and violation of Indian laws protecting the rights of indigenous peoples and forests.
Leaders of the mining industry often criticise opponents for irresponsibly bringing their own biases into community politics, and manipulating local people into anti-mining views. But who are the real outsiders in this parlous and potentially bloody situation? And who is currently acting with the greatest degree of irresponsibility? The answer must be obvious.
Whether they care to acknowledge it or not, the global mining companies, Vedanta, Alcan, BHPBiliton and their backers - directly ABNAmro, Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank; implicitly the World Bank and DFID - now have a stark choice. Either they can announce an immediate halt to all their mining-based designs and commitments in Orissa, at least until an independent public enquiry reports on the extremely serious allegations against the Patnaik administration.
Or they can kiss any pretence of corporate social responsibility a final goodbye.
The following have been received by Mines and Communities during the past week. Two public statements, and an Urgent Action alert from the Canadian Alcan't campaign, are reprinted as they stand. Accounts from others in Orissa have been slightly edited to protect the identity of the authors.
Behind the Firings at Kashipur
From an Orissa activist: December 2 2004
Rayagada: yesterday during the evening, police fired at tribals and dalits gathered near Karol chowk [near Kucheipadar/Ramibeda village] when they protested the laying of a foundation stone for a police out-post. They were around 150 people whereas the police force numbered around 500/600 led by Kalahandi SP and Collector. 10 and more are injured and 6 are taken away by police jeep and their whereabouts are not known to the villagers. The area is tense and the armed force have literally seized the area so that no outsiders can enter and inter village meetings can not be held. The police out post has to be set up at any cost to give security to the UAIL where ADITYA BIRLA has the major share other than the multinational company of Canada called ALCAN. Collector and SP and the almost all the senior police officials of the district are camping there at Tikiri. With the help of 4 more platoons of armed police force and in the presence of Collector and SP the foundation stone is being laid. So the hegemony of the state and its loyalty to corporates like BIRLA is again established.
The sequential murderous plan.....
On 27th November, there was a public hearing conducted by the Orissa state pollution control board for HINDALCO[Aditya Birla] in Phuljaba-Kashipur. This company is fully owned by ADITYA BIRLA. Hundreds of people were carried from outside in support of the company. The hearing started by 9.30AM in stead of 11AM and was complete by 12 o'clock. Though hundreds of people protested it, many were obstructed by police on the way. To add to this when the villagers from far off places reached the venue the jury was not there. The ADM and other member of the jury then joined the so called rally of those people carried to the spot by the vehicles hired by company. Thus the farce ended.
On 28th there was a rally in Tikiri[where the UAIL office is situated]organised by all party led by the local MLA [Member of the Legislative Assembly, Orissa] Sri Anantaram Majhi[Congress-I]favouring the establishment of the company. The rally was kindly attended by the magnanimous and loyal Collector. He was seen interacting with the company sponsored supporters in the gathering of 4/5 thousand people. It is clear that he was almost taking the lead in making the rally successful. The people demanded to ban the supporting NGOs and arrest leaders who are opposing the UAIL.On the same day, tribals and dalits numbering 5000 had a protest rally near Nuapada Chhak[near Kucheipadar Village] against UAIL.
On 29th the Zilla Parishad meeting was held in Rayagada where the MLA Sri Anantaram Majhi told to the media that he has a threat to his life and property from anti-company group. The District Collector also said that the people and and the organisations will be taken to task if they oppose the company.
On 1st December, the Collector along with Kalahandi SP move to Kashipur to lay the foundation of a police out post near Kucheipadar. It was at about 4PM the Collector,SP along with the armed force threatened the 150 who were sitting and protesting near the place where the foundation was dug. The SP ordered them to vacate the place so that the Collector can inaugurate; but the people refused to leave the place and protested the establishment of the police outpost. Then he ordered for the gas firing. When there was gas firing, some people mistook it for gun firing and started to run at all directions. There was severe lathi charge. The police entered to into Upper Korol village and mercilessly beat the people. Even the ladies and old people were not spared. Six people including two women were severe injured and they were taken to Tikiri thana and put into the hazat. Saroj Nayak of Dudkabahal village and Rammoorthy of Karol village and the wife of Sankarsan Nayak of Dimundi village have bone fractures. Some are treated in Kucheipadar and Tikiri hospitals. Now six people are in hazat[Saroj Nayak, Uma Majhi, Mukuna Disari, Kamal Nayak and Smt Adai majhi and Smt Malai Majhi] who are expected to be forwarded to Rayagada Court tomorrow.
To-day around 700 people gathered under the banyan tree near Kucheipadar and have decided to have a mass meet on 7th Dec near Nuapada Chhak/Karol Chhak and destroy the foundation and the police camp [4 platoons of armed police force are camping there].
From an observer in the Vedanta area (December 5th 2004):
"No-one, I repeat NO-ONE, will be allowed to stand in the way of Orissa's industrialization and the people's progress". This was a statement made by Naveen Patnaik which was on Oriya [Orissa) TV news yesterday.
The two alumina projects (Vedanta/Sterlite/Balco at Lanjigarh to mine Niyamgiri Mountain, and the Utkal project of Alcan with Indal-Hindalco (Birla) at Kashipur) are being pushed ahead forcefully, with strong police repression, gathering momentum in the last 3 weeks. So is a chromite mine at Tangarpadar in Dhenkanal (N.Orissa), despite an Orissa High Court judgement that's just declared this deal illegal, and is likely to make a similar judgement about Vedanta.
The issue is now going to the Supreme Court in Delhi.
Meanwhile at Lanjigarh the alumina refinery is being built at great speed... In the Niyamgiris themselves the Dongria (Hill) Konds [Indigenous communities] are in a state of great disturbance.....they feel their whole culture is under attack - as it is. The forest here is fantastic - among the best stands in Orissa, and the DFO (Div. Forest Officer) in Rayagada has refused forest clearance for the project, on the grounds that the Reserved Forest at the top of the ridge (4,000 ft) is of prime importance etc. he Bank...
In Kashipur, where the Utkal project's been stalled 12 yrs, the police oppression and attacks on Ramibera and other tribal "resistance villages" is very bad. They're building a whole concrete police post 2 kms from Kucheipadar village [in the lease area]. This is apparently being done under the Collector of Kalahandi, Yashwant Mishra, a former Balco [Vedanta] employee,as well as local Congress and BJD political leaders.
The PSSP (Natural Resources Defence Council, centred at Kucheipadar) is holding a rally on 7th Dec, in preparation for that on 16th, which commemorates the 4th anniversary of the police firing at Maikanch that killed 3 tribal people.
There's an urgent need to get this news out, since Vedanta's had hardly any adverse news in the UK despite its massively polluting irregularities at the Tuticorn copper smelter in SouthIndia, as well as here in Orissa..... The movement against these projects is one of the main movements supported by Arundhati Roy and all those who are mindful of tribal people and their issues in India. So please spread this news and take what action you can!
Another report from the same source: December 2nd 2004
A letter's been leaked from the District Forestry Officer (DFO) in Rayagada [site of the Utkal project]to his superiors complaining about outstanding irregularities... 100 hectares of forest land is being taken by the company without permission. 3,200,000 rupees has been spent by the company apparently making illegal donations to BJD [government party] and Congress from informed sources in the Orissa government.
**URGENT ACTION ALERT**
**Severe police violence against the peoples of Kashipur who oppose a major mining project proposed by Alcan Inc. MUST STOP IMMEDIATLY.**
Contents of this message:
1) Urgent Information on Kashipur, India.
2) Taking immediate action, what you can do about it.
3) Sample letter to Alcan officers and Orissa Chief Minister
4) Background info
1) Urgent Information:
**A variety of recent reports claim that despite the peoples' clear resistance, MORE ARMED POLICE HAVE BEEN SENT TO THE KASHIPUR REGION, and that the Collector and Police Superintendents are residing with the police platoons in the nearby town of Tikiri**. Police have been reported to be arresting and harassing people indiscriminantly, including farmers returning from their fields. At the same time, thousands of people throughout the state are rallying against the police repression and the corporate encroachment on their lands. This rallying will culminate on Tuesday December 7th, where peoples from across the state will be demonstrating against this severe police violence serving foreign corporate interests. Likewise, as has been the case every year since 2000, the peoples will be marking "Kashipur Martys' Day" on December 16th with huge anti-mining, and anti-police violence rallies.
**IT IS VERY POSSIBLE THAT THESE DEMONSTRATIONS WILL RESULT IN MUCH MORE SEVERE VIOLENCE AGAINST THE PEOPLES WHO HAVE BEEN BRAVE ENOUGH TO IDENTIFY THE STATE AND COMPANIES AS UNJUST ENCROACHERS ON THEIR LAND.**
Our immediate efforts here in Montreal, and in North America in general, can very much help to mitigate this possible violence on the 7th and 16th of December.
2) TAKE ACTION.
a) Write to Alcan Inc by email UPON IMMEDIATE RECEPTION OF THIS MESSAGE with your concerns about this recent wave of police violence unleashed on the adivasis (indigenous peoples) and dalits (low cast peoples) of Kashipur, Orissa, India. Sample letter below.
Please write to: Michael Hanley, Alcan CEO of Bauxite and Alumina at firstname.lastname@example.org and CC the message to: Alcan CEO Travis Engen at email@example.com Chief Minister of Orissa, Shri Naveen Patnaik at firstname.lastname@example.org
b) CALL MICHAEL HANLEY at 08h00-10h00 EST on Monday morning at the number: +1 514 848 8487 (given the time difference, it will already be late night on the eve of the December 7th rallies in Orissa), and ask him to do everything in his power as an officer of Alcan, holding a 45% share in this project, to stop all violence against the peoples of Kashipur.
LET US KNOW WHEN YOU HAVE TAKEN ACTION Please bcc email@example.com, or send us an e-mail after you have contacted Michael Hanley.
3) Sample letter
**SAMPLE LETTER TO ALCAN**
President and CEO, Bauxite and Alumina, Alcan Inc.
President and CEO, Alcan Inc.
Shri Naveen Patnaik
Chief Minister - Orissa
Subject: Halt immediately brutal police action on peoples of Kashipur, Orissa.
I am writing to you to bring to your attention our grave concerns regarding brutal police action against tribals in Kashipur Orissa in the last few days. You must be aware of the problems in Kashipur and surrounding areas of Orissa where adivasi and dalit communities have been agitating against your proposed bauxite mine and alumina refinery. The communities have been greatly concerned about the destruction of their livelihoods, communities and environment by this proposed project. Despite repeated requests from the tribal communities to stop The projects, the state government has recently stepped up its efforts to initiate the Utkal Alumina International Ltd. (UAIL) project in which you hold a 45% share. The state government is now using police force to start the bauxite mine and alumina refinery by violent means. In the past such use of police force has, as I am sure you are aware, resulted in the killing of three unarmed adivasis and serious injury of several others.
On Dec 1st, 2004 the district administration led by the Collector Dr. P K Meherda and the Superintendent of Police, accompanied by over 500 armed police,had gone to Karal village to inaugurate the approach road to your proposed bauxite mine on Baphlimali (from Totaguda to Paikokupakhal). A police outpost and a barrack for armed police in Karal were also to be inaugurated. Clearly the state as well as the companies involved are aware of the massive local opposition to your proposed project, given that it can not be initiated before establishing an intimidating police presence.
This inauguration was opposed by around 400 tribals, mostly women. In response, the police intimidated them with blank firings, and then resorted to a massive and indiscriminate lathi charge. The lathi charge took place at 3:00 PM. As per the reports, the tribals were beaten up badly. Around 16 people have been critically injured and three tribal women were still unconscious three and a half hours later. It has also come to our notice that people critically injured in the police lathi charge have not been taken for treatment to hospital but have instead been arrested and taken to Rayagada Jail. The critically injured persons, including dalit leader Saroj Naik, have been denied hospital care and so are now languishing in Rayagada jail.
As you are well aware, the State Government has consistently tried to suppress the people's movement against your proposed mining project by resorting to strong police action, which culminated in the killing of three tribals. The killing was due to irresponsible police action, opening fire against unarmed villagers at Maikanch on December 16, 2000. The Justice P.K. Mishra Commission, set-up to enquire about the Maikanch police firing, clearly identified the officers culpable for the incidence, though no action has been taken against these identified officers. At this time, Alcan was already a shareholder in UAIL. The most recent incidents of December 1, 2004 are very similar in nature, intending to suppress the movement of the people demanding their rights.
These past and recent demonstrations of police brutality against opponents of your mining project have drawn the attention of various news media in India and Canada, and is being monitored by various Indian, Canadian and International NGOs.
Now, your company has a 45% share in UAIL. This severe police violence is being perpetrated in order to initiate as soon as possible your bauxite extraction and alumina refining project. I demand that as a responsible and respectful corporation, you immediately denounce these outrageous actions of the Orissa state government. I demand that you do everything in your power to stop the forceful and violent implementation of UAIL activities in the region of Kashipur. The people are intending to demonstrate against these police actions on Tuesday December 7th. As such, we expect that you will contact your Indian partners and the appropriate government officials IMMEDIATELY to make it clear that you will not accept violence against the people of Kashipur on this day, or any other day, for the establishment of UAIL.
4) Background information
Alcan't in India solidarity campaign, with urgent news from the Kashipur region of Orissa, India. In this region, several companies, including Alcan Inc. of Montreal, are hoping to establish huge bauxite mines and alumina refineries, at the cost of the livelihoods of thousands of indigenous and low-caste peoples who live in the areas. These local peoples have consistently demonstrated their opposition to this project through legal channels as well as through mass public mobilizations. However, the government of Orissa is bent on initiating these mega-industry projects even though the projects offer little in the way of employment, development or even tax revenue for the state.
During the last week of November 2004, politicians and bureaucrats held an all party meeting requesting that the Alcan mining project be launched at any cost and the opposition be suppressed.
On December 1st, under the direct command and in the presence of the District Collector (high-level bureaucrat) and Police Superintendent, hundreds of armed police tear-gassed, brutally attacked, and critically injured 16 indigenous peoples, most of them women, near the village of D-Karal.
Through violent and direct police repression, the Orissa government was attempting to forcibly inaugurate an approach road and police outpost for the proposed bauxite mine and alumina refinery of which Montreal's Alcan Inc. has a 45 percent share. Around 400 local indigenous people had gathered to prevent the activities of these violent state encroachers, as part of their continuing efforts to protect their lands and livelihoods.
After the December 1st attacks, many people are missing and are believed to be in secret police custody. Several reports further claim that many of the victims, although sustaining severe injuries, are not receiving any medical attention while in detention.
Both past and recent events demonstrate that this police violence is a conscious program of the Orissa government in support of the Alcan-backed aluminum project. As reported by the state-wide daily "Dharitri" on November 25, the Chief Minister (head of state) of Orissa, Shri Naveen Patnaik, gave clear instructions to state bureaucrats and police superintendents that all anti-mining movements must be firmly suppressed.
Furthermore, these recent attacks come on the eve of the fourth commemoration of the killings of three indigenous villagers who dared to speak out against the destructive mining project.
On December 16, 2000 Anhilas, Damodar, and Raghunath Jhodia were shot Dead by heavily armed state police who attacked their village after local people held a massive anti-mining meeting. Finally, as far back as 1998, village leader Mangta Majhi was effectively killed by police when they arrested him, severely beat him, and then allowed him to return home to die.
Alcan has previously denied culpability regarding police violence in Kashipur. The explicit nature of this December 1 incident, involving attempts to build an approach road and police outpost whose only purpose would be for the development Alcan's proposed aluminum project, directly call into question this Canadian company's claims of non-culpability and likewise its claims that this project is still only in its "conceptual" and "development" stages. Recent reports from India claim that the state government is attempting to establish the mine and refinery by January 2005, which is a full year earlier than Alcan was claiming the project would need to APPROVED by its own board of directors.
Please help us to stop this indiscriminant and severe police violence against the peoples of Kashipur, who are fighting just to protect their livelihoods. Write TODAY to Alcan and call them early Monday morning.
DESHAPREMI JANA SAMUKHYA, ODISHA
(A Front of Revolutionary & Patriotic Parties, Peoples' Movements, Democratic Groups and Individuals)
2510(J), Kedargouri Area, Rabi Talkies Square, Bhubaneswar-751 002
Phone- 9337112265, 9861013320, 9861083155
BRUTAL POLICE ACTION ON AGITATING TRIBALS IN KASHIPUR Orissa Govt. Using Police Force to Start Alumina Plant
Joint Appeal to All Citizens and Organisations and political Parties to Protect the Democratic Rights of the People and the Right to protect Their Livelihoods and Life by Deshapremi Jana Samukhya and Prakrutika Sampad Surakhya Parishad, Kucheipadar, Kashipur, Rayagada
* Under the direct command and the presence of the Rayagada District Collector Shri P.K. Mehrda, IAS, and SP Sri Sanjaya Kumar on December 1, 2004 the police have brutally attacked and critically injured 16 tribals and have arrested several of them (Mostly women) when more than 300 tribals and Dalits were protesting against the Government's forcible establishment of a Police Station along with a barrack for armed police at the village of D. Karol, near the proposed Alumina Plant site of UAIL at Doraguda.
* The critically injured persons have been denied hospital care and they are now languishing in Rayagada jail. Several injured agitators are reportedly missing.
* The Government has been trying to set-up this Police station since a long time but was not successful because of the agitation against the same by the Kashipur Movement under the leadership of Prakrutika Sampad Surakhya Parishad (PSSP). The Police Station is required by the company to suppress the Movement and carry out construction activity for the plant under armed police protection.
* It interesting to note that while the people of Kashipur have been demanding setting-up of medical facilities and schools at all Panchayats, the Government chooses to set-up Police stations at huge cost. People ask for medicines and the Government gives them bullets.
* On December 1, 2004 when the District Collector & S.P, along with a big police force were trying to inaugurate the approach road to the plant site and the Police Station, the tribals and local people gathered at D.Karol and protested the action by the Government. After the Police action in which blank firing, tear-gassing and lathi charge was resorted to, thousands of protesting tribals and dalits have gathered at D.Karol village. The district administration has brought in more than 1000 armed police force to the location. The situation is extremely tense.
* The Kashipur Tribals and Dalits have been opposing the establishment of the proposed Rs.4500 crore Alumina Plant of the Utkal Alumina Ltd. (a joint venture of Aditya Birla Group and ALCAN-a Canadian Alumina major). The peoples' protest has been going on for the last 12 years as a consequence of which the Company has not been able to lay a single brick at the site in spite of the strong support by the State Government and all major political parties.
* The peoples' protest is based on the fact that the proposed Bauxite mining and Alumina refinery at Kashipur shall lead to the destruction of their fertile agricultural land, forests, mountains and perennial water-streams, the very basis of their livelihoods and livelihood of generations to come. The PSSP has been opposing the project because with Bauxite mining the water holding capacity of the mountains shall be drastically reduced. The tribals have always believed that Bauxite holds water and is the source of perennial water for their agriculture and drinking. Nearly 20,000 people shall be affected in 82 villages. The proposed project has employment potential of only 1000 and that too for only 20 years.
* The State Government tried to suppress the antimining Movement by resorting to strong police action, which culminated in the killing of three tribals by police firing at Maikanch on December 16, 2000. After the killings, the Movement has gained even more ground. The Justice P.K. Mishra Commission, set-up to enquire about the Maikanch police firing, has clearly identified the Officers culpable for the incidence. However, the Government is yet to take any action. This is inspite of the fact that PSSP has lodged an FIR to this effect on October 19, 2004 after a rally of nearly 7000 tribals and dalits.
* After the 2004 election the State Government has taken an aggressive posture in favour of mega industries and against those opposing mega industries. The Industry Minister Biswabhusan Harichandan in the floor of the Assembly said that those who protest against Industries would be arrested. The chief Minister in a recently held Collector's conference on November 24, 2004 instructed the Collectors and SPs to strongly deal with those who oppose mega Industries.
* The Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) of Southern Division and the Collector and the Superintendent of Police (SP), Rayagada have reduced themselves to the position of project managers of Utkal Alumina Ltd. The major difference they enjoy vis-à-vis other company managers is that they can bring the power of the State to bear for the advancement of private corporate interest. Similar to the revenue and police administration in Kalahandi ( Vedant-Sterlite's Alumina project in Lanjigarh), the administration in Rayagada is also trying to push the construction of the UAIL project by hook or by crook. It has resorted to manufacturing peoples' consent for support of the UAIL Plant through use of force, by bribing a few persons and declaring benefits for those who would be displaced.
* The Government has been trying to confuse and divide the protesters by saying that the Village Kucheipadar (Centre of PSSP) shall not be included under the plant. But this is a gimmick meant to silence the protesters. In reality all the villages in Kashipur area except very few are against the project and only the workers of the ruling political parties such as BJD, BJP, Congress and some workers of BSP favour the construction of the plant.
* An all party( Congress, BJD, BJP and BSP) rally was organised on November 28, 2004 at Tikiri( 11 km. from proposed plant site) by spending nearly Rs.22 lakhs and trucking nearly 5000 people from outside Kashipur area. The rally was planned to enter the proposed plant site. While this event was covered widely by all news papers of the state the fact that more than 2000 tribals led by Bhagaban Majhi, Convener, PSSP blocked the road to the proposed plant site on the same day was suppressed except one news paper. Shri Anantram Majhi of Congress party, the MLA from Kashipur was seen to be taking orders from Krushna Mohapatra (the established tribal exploiter and tribal land grabber of Kashipur) the local BJD leader, for this rally. This indicates clearly that the Congress, BJD, BJP and BSP are one as regards suppressing the people and favouring the Foreign and Indian Companies who want to loot our resources.
* The Government is trying to do all this in order to create a positive environment for rapid industrialisation in Orissa. Incidentally the State Government has received proposals for an investment of Rs.2, 50,000 crores during the next 5-10 years in big and mega industries. Most of these investments are in Aluminium, Steel and Infrastructure Industries (Roads, Ports, Power, etc.).
* It is interesting to note that this entire investment of Rs.2,50,000 crores shall lead to an employment potential of only 1,75,000 as against the present unemployment level of 20 lakh (and another at least 20 lakh who are underemployed and who will be loosing employment). As against this only Rs. 5000 crores if invested in cottage industries, Small and Medium industries and Big Industries shall create employment of nearly 1 Crore People. The Proposed Kashipur Aluminum plant with an investment of Rs.4,500 crores has a meager employment potential of only 1000 and that too only for 20 years (after which the Bauxite mines of the area will be exhausted) as against 20,000 persons who would loose their livelihoods and resources.
* The core of the issue is forcible establishment of mega industries at gunpoint that give nothing to the people and takes away their and their future generation's livelihoods.. The Government wants to go for rapid industrialization through setting up of mega and big industries that threaten the livelihood base of the majority of the population. The Rs. 2,50,000 crores planned to be invested by the corporates in Orissa would lead to displacement of more than 10 lakh families (the GOO has admitted that at least 2.5 lakh people would be displaced as a consequence of 20 mining projects and 5 big dam projects), exhaust its entire mining resources within the next 50 years, and lead to massive environmental and ecosystem degradation leading to erosion of life sustaining natural resources for the local people. The indutrialisation would lead to pollution and drying up of all rivers and ground water in the state.
* The State's ruling elites's obsession with mining and industrialization is a mask for ruthless stripping away of the environmental and mineral wealth of Orissa for their own personal and class interests. This is the current face of colonization, where global mining corporates collaborate with the ruling elite of the State to obtain access to the minerals and other natural resources at throwaway prices. The Tangarpada mines verdict of the High Court exposes the conspiracy between the ruling class and the corporate sector, where it has ruled that the chromite mine lease to a private corporate house should be cancelled as the current condition would have led to a loss of Rs. 20,000 crores to Orissa. Similarly, the bauxite mining lease for the mountains of Niyamgiri and Khandualmali are surrounded by allegations of large-scale kickbacks. In its greed to sell off the resources of the State, the ruling elite has even omitted to comply with its own Forest Conservation Act in Niyamgiri, and allowed felling of forests without seeking permission from the Central Government. The fate of the tribal and poor who stand in the way of this ruthless loot of State's resources seems to be bullets and lathis. The massive personal gain by the politicians and bureaucrats explains the extreme haste and interest with which they are pushing the opening up of the State's resources to global capital. The desire for development through industrialization is but a mask - no country or state in the world has become developed simply by exploiting its mineral resources. The example of Bihar and Jharkhand next door should serve as a lesson. There are a large number of countries such as Iraq which are being colonized by imperial powers and transnationals precisely because they are rich in mineral resources. This seems to be that fate that awaits Orissa. The doors for Orissa's colonization have been opened by World Bank loans and the administrative reforms facilitated by DFID, pushing the same neo-liberal agendas which have destroyed the economies of the countries like Argentina, Brazil and Mexico and has pushed masses of those countries to complete destitution and desperation. It needs to be remembered that the same DFID, seen as the saviour of Orissa, is complicit with the Tony Blair Government in the imperial loot and destruction of Iraq.
* The desperate resistance by the tribal people of Kashipur against the UAIL is therefore not just a struggle against effective genocide of their lives and cultures, but it is also the leading edge of the struggle against the onslaught of global imperialism and attempt of the international capitalist class to appropriate the lifespaces and lives of all marginalized people. This struggle must be supported by all progressives.
Our Appeal: Since, the administration is determined to suppress the people's movement in Kashipur which is evident from the fact that despite the protest of tribals and dalits yesterday and the subsequent brutal police action against them, sources from Rayagada suggest that the collector and SP have gone to the area with more armed forces to repeat the abandoned programmes of yesterday.
All groups working for the protection of democratic rights of the vulnerable people must get into action immediately to prevent any further violation of democratic rights of the peaceful tribal agitators.
All Political parties claiming to be working for the cause of the tribals and dalits and are aware of the implications of the loot going on in the name of rapid industrialisation should also take exemplary steps to prevent any further atrocities on the people and persuade the government to abandon the Alumina projects.
We request the media to publicise widely our views and report fairly and impartially on the actual field situation by organising immediate field trips.
Gananath Patra Bhalachandra Sarangi Lingaraj
CPI(ML) CPI(ML- New democracy) Samajwadi Janparishad
Shivram Rajendra Sarangi
CPI(ML-Red Flag) Loka Pakhya
[London Calling is published by Nostromo Research, London. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of any other individual, organisation or editors of the MAC web site. Reproduction is encouraged with full acknowledgment]